OPINION: Midwives are crucial in providing early parenting support.
Concerns have been raised about the high percentage of new mothers at Southland Hospital who are referred to mental health services. This has highlighted the critical need for good parenting support.
It is encouraging that the Southland DHB is ''committed to helping new mums'' and that the Shared Services Forum will be discussing the Strengthening Parenting Project this week. Based on my recent experience, I believe that parenting support starts during pregnancy. I had excellent care and support from my Te Anau-based midwife before, during and after the birth of our daughter. I largely attribute my positive experience of motherhood to her service, coupled with the excellent care and support provided by the other midwives and staff of the Lumsden Maternity Centre and the Plunket nurse.
I am therefore dismayed that a minor funding shortfall threatens the continued provision of excellent maternity services to rural women. The shift from salaried midwives to a model of independent midwifery services may not give rural midwives sufficient job security or income to continue operating, or to be able to continue to provide the same level of support to rural parents.
I am therefore appealing to the DHB and other relevant decision makers to source the necessary funding to ensure rural women continue to have access to high quality midwifery services and excellent rural maternity facilities.
The consequences and costs of not doing so is likely to lead to an increase in the number of roadside births, ante- and post-natal health complications, maternal mental health and parenting issues. What can the community do to support our midwives and the Lumsden Maternity Centre?
Te Anau Down
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